Bachmann Tackles Perry Over HPV Vaccinations, Political Donations

Michele Bachmann was on the warpath last night against GOP front-runner Rick Perry, attacking the Texas governor over an executive order that required vaccinations for Texas schoolgirls against the sexually transmitted HPV virus.

With the pair facing off at CNN’s Tea Party Republican Debate, Bachmann pointed out Perry’s former chief of staff was a top lobbyist for Merck, the manufacturer of the HPV vaccine. Merck made political donations to Perry, and Bachmann was keen to capitalise on this happy coincidence:

“The drug company gave thousand of dollars in political donations to the governor. And this is just flat-out wrong.”

Perry shot back, pointing out that the donation in question was for $5,000, a tiny amount of the $30 million he raised. That almost seemed like a reasonable return, though his concluding remark was the definition of crassness:

“If you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended”

Indeed, Perry was on the defense for most of the evening.

He was quizzed extensively over his labeling of Social Security as a ‘Ponzi scheme’ (“It has been called a Ponzi scheme by many people long before me. But no one’s had the courage to stand up and say, ‘Here is how we’re going to reform it,’”), while former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman tried to pin down Perry on border security.

CNN blog’s argues that the sustained attacks on Perry should be taken as a sign that Perry is viewed by his rivals as a serious threat. You can watch Bachmann and Perry’s confrontation over HPV vaccinations at CNN.